Thursday, October 6, 2011

Crockpot dulce de leche

I had this bright idea of making dulce de leche in my crockpot, but it turns out I'm not quite patient enough to wait long enough.

On the other hand, this gave me a really dark dulce de leche and the stirring time was greatly reduced since most of the evaporating was done in the crockpot instead of on the stove.

However ... and this is a big however. The timing on this is going to be entirely dependent on how hot your crockpot gets.

I've heard some people say that the low setting is hotter than it used to be when crockpots first came out. Maybe. But maybe not. My newest crockpot seems a little slower than my older one, so maybe it's more about brand or model.

But that's okay. The slow cooking meant that there wasn't much risk of scorching the milk.

If your crockpot runs hot, you might need to do some stirring now and then, and for sure you'll need to watch it towards the end of cooking and stir, as needed.

Crockpot Dulce de Leche

1/2 gallon whole milk
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vanilla

Put all the ingredients in the crockpot and crank it up to high. Stir, as needed, to melt the sugar, until the mixture starts to foam up spectacularly. It might grow to about double its size if you let it. Turn the heat down (or off) until the foaming subsides.

Set the crockpot to low heat, and let it cook, uncovered, until it has reduced to about 1/4 the original volume, and it is as thick and syrupy as you want it. That's right - 1/2 gallon of milk should reduce to about 1 pint.

Please note that the crockpot needs to be uncovered, or you will be cooking until doomsday. You want the liquid to evaporate. If you're worried about small flying objects landing in the crockpot (like if you're making this in the summer and your pet fly is buzzing around) a splatter screen over the top of the crockpot will let steam escape while barring access to pesky pests.

After 8 hours in my crockpot the mixture hadn't reduced enough, so I decided to hurry the process along. I transferred the mixture to a pot and put it on the stove and let it cook at a bare simmer while I stirred it (my crockpot didn't break a simmer at all, except on high, which was way too high for long cooking).

It didn't take much longer on the stove before I had a thick sauce, but I didn't cook it all the way down to 1/4 of the original volume. I ended up with about 3 cups (1 1/2 pints) of a sauce that is pourable at room temperature. You can make yours as thick as you like, all the way down to something that's almost chewy.

Depending on how hot your crockpot gets, you might (probably) be done in a shorter time. The low setting on mine is very low. You might also need to stir the mixture to keep it from scorching, if the pot has hot spots or if it cooks hotter.

Towards the end of cooking, you might want to raise the heat to high and stir continuously to finish it. Once it gets to a certain thickness, it seems to progress much faster, so at that point you might want to be there watching it.

Now that I know how long this takes in my crockpot, I'll probably start the process at night and be ready to watch it during the day. Starting it at noon probably wasn't the best idea I've ever had. However, with a different crockpot, it might take only 4 or 6 hours. Until you've tested this, I'd suggest starting it early on a day when you can be around to watch it, and see how long it will take. The next time, you'll know what to expect.

Of course, if it's not done, there's no harm in taking it out of the crockpot and refrigerating it, then continuing the next day.


Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray said...

Oh my goodness, are you kidding me? I have to try this! Amazing!

juliana alonso dorola said...

if you are using this amazing dulce de leche in a recipe, you can blog about it on tuesday! its world dulce de leche day!

Tupper Cooks! said...

Dumb Question, but that's me. What'd you do with it after it was done? Or what would I do with it?

I'm Dulce de Leche ignorant!

Donna Currie said...

It's a like a caramel sauce. It went over ice cream and apple pie ... and then the jar disappeared.

Farmgirl Gourmet said...

OMG Donna. I am swooning beyond belief right now. Dulce de leche in the crock pot? I'm in love. Buying the ingredients tomorrow. I love you! :)


Leaper said...

1 teaspoon soda

Baking soda, or what?

Donna Currie said...

Yep, baking. Fixed - thank you!

Sara said...

This looks great - do you think you could use a can of coconut milk in place of the 1/2 gallon of regular milk, reducing the other ingredients proportionally?

Donna Currie said...

I don't see why not. I'm not a big fan of coconut, but it should work.

eugenia said...

People, dulce de leche calls for cow milk. You can replace it with coconut milk but the result won't be the same. It won't taste like dulce de leche.

Ann said...

I was excited to try this. Unfortunately my modern Crockpot-brand cooker never got hot enough. After 5 hours on high the milk was only 135 degrees and hadn't foamed up. I'm currently finishing it on the stove. Smells yummy. I wonder if the lid needs to be on the pot to allow the heat to build up, which, of course, wouldn't work for this recipe.

Thanks for posting this recipe. It got me to try something new and outside my comfort zone.

Donna Currie said...

@Ann, I've got three different crockpots, and the heat settings aren't consistent at all among types and brands. Stovetop will work just fine, though.

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